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OpenAlea: A visual programming and component-based software platform for plant modeling

Christophe Pradal 1, 2 Samuel Dufour-Kowalski 1, 2 Frédéric Boudon 1, 2 Christian Fournier 1, 3 Christophe Godin 1, 2
1 VIRTUAL PLANTS - Modeling plant morphogenesis at different scales, from genes to phenotype
CRISAM - Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée , INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, UMR AGAP - Amélioration génétique et adaptation des plantes méditerranéennes et tropicales
Abstract : As illustrated by the approaches presented during the 5th FSPM workshop (Prusinkiewicz and Hanan 2007, and this issue), the development of functional-structural plant models requires an increasing amount of computer modeling. All these models are developed by different teams in various contexts and with different goals. Efficient and flexible computational frameworks are required to augment the interaction between these models, their reusability, and the possibility to compare them on identical datasets. In this paper, we present an open-source platform, OpenAlea, that provides a user-friendly environment for modelers, and advanced deployment methods. OpenAlea allows researchers to build models using a visual programming interface and provides a set of tools and models dedicated to plant modeling. Models and algorithms are embedded in OpenAlea components with well defined input and output interfaces that can be easily interconnected to form more complex models and define more macroscopic components. The system architecture is based on the use of a general purpose, high-level, object-oriented script language, Python, widely used in other scientific areas. We briefly present the rationale that underlies the architectural design of this system and we illustrate the use of the platform to assemble several heterogeneous model components and to rapidly prototype a complex modeling scenario.
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Christophe Pradal, Samuel Dufour-Kowalski, Frédéric Boudon, Christian Fournier, Christophe Godin. OpenAlea: A visual programming and component-based software platform for plant modeling. Functional Plant Biology, CSIRO Publishing, 2008, 35 (10), pp.751-760. ⟨10.1071/FP08084⟩. ⟨hal-00831811⟩



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